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Ohio Arts Council Executive Director Donna S. Collins and OAC Riffe Gallery Director Mary Gray

Riffe, Retirement, Rehearsal: It’s Not Your Teachers’ Three R’s, But It’s Mary Gray’s!

As the end of 2018 fast approaches, so does Mary Gray’s last day at the Ohio Arts Council’s Riffe Gallery. Yes, you’ve read that correctly. Mary will be retiring at the end of January having served the agency for more than 26 years. Instead of ringing in the new year and making resolutions, I’m thinking about the years of service Mary has given to artists, curators, arts organizations, school children, fellows, gallery guests, and all of us through extraordinary leadership, exhibitions, lectures, and workshops.

Long before I arrived at the Ohio Arts Council in 2014, I knew that Mary was a planner and organizer.  She has always had a strong commitment to excellence and knows an exhibition idea when she hears it! Mary’s recent innovations at the OAC Riffe Gallery have taken us to new levels of engagement and made the gallery even more attractive to the public. Thanks to Mary’s guidance, we are increasing opportunities for artists and making good use of social media and marketing to promote Ohio’s artists to the public.

When Mary arrived at our regularly scheduled update meeting last month, she started the conversation with an apology, knowing how disappointed I would be to hear her news. She was right, but I must admit it is hard to argue with someone who has had a long and successful career and has earned retirement status. Mary shared that she looks forward to being in an upcoming theatre production and discovering what’s next in her life. It is always sad to see long-tenured employees go, yet there is joy in knowing that it is a well-deserved opportunity.

In a typical employment situation, when a person tenders their retirement, they sit back, relax, and coast to the last day. Not Mary Gray! She has been organizing, securing needed replacement equipment, and updating the OAC Riffe Gallery’s process guide all in preparation for our next new staff member.

 Word has been slowly leaking out … the gallery world is small (and mighty) so this article won’t come as a surprise to many of you. Mary’s last day at the Riffe Gallery will be Jan. 25. However, you can celebrate with Mary on Thursday, Jan. 24 at the opening reception for Duo Trio: Diptychs and Triptychs, curated by Christine Fowler Shearer. The reception is from 5 to 7 p.m. at the Ohio Arts Council’s Riffe Gallery, 77 S. High St., in downtown Columbus.

If you can’t join us at the exhibition opening reception and you’d like to drop Mary an email ( or a note of congratulations (Ohio Arts Council, 30 E. Broad St., 33rd Floor, Columbus, OH 43215) please feel free to do so. And, if you want to see Mary before her time at the OAC concludes, you are welcome to call and schedule a time to visit (614-728-2239).

Congratulations, Mary—we wish you well and look forward to seeing you on the stage of a local theatre for seasons to come!

Until next time,

Donna Collins' signature

Donna S. Collins
Executive Director

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